How quickly a year goes by! Last year was my first time walking in The Real Catwalk flash mob fashion show in Trafalgar Square created by American model Khrystyana. and the feel good factor stayed with me for weeks after. KhrystyAna started the Real Catwalk event after her own experience as a curve model during Americas Next Top Model series walking in Times Square, the response and support she gained from this really encouraged her to create this positive event.
The message is simple, one of "self love and acceptance for everyone to celebrate together" and we certainly did!
Krispy Kreme donuts the night before a lingerie and swimwear catwalk, surely not!!!!
Last year I wore a bikini and I saw it is an opportunity to see how far my body confidence had grown so this year I chose the lingerie option as another step forward. Body confidence is something I really don't take for granted as it has only come once hitting my forties. So many people that take part in this event feel incredibly anxious and struggle with self confidence so to be part of it and to be able to offer support and reassurance is a pleasure. This event is for everyone to feel represented, men and women, people with scars, disabilities, all sexualities and sizes, people that have overcome real challenges just to get to this point and to be around everyone is very moving.
Daryl Hembrough photographed by Mariam Gomez.
Clara, aka Rollin Funky looking amazing, photographed by Mariam Gomez.
This woman energy was amazing all day and she pulled off doing the splits on the catwalk too! Naala Lartey photographed by Mariam Gomez
Khrystyana has created a safe space for all that want to join in who may struggle with their own insecurities. It's an event to build others up, celebrate all our differences and without any judgement. It has really heightened my awareness of how judgemental we are in society and how we spend so much of our time being forced to compare ourselves to others, whether it's through mainstream advertising, the fashion industry, the media and in politics. Perhaps the world would be a better place if events like this were seen across the world on a regular basis.
A question I've been asked several times is why do I feel the need to take part in this event if I am already body confident. I think it's important to be active in things that you are passionate about. Women over 40 are rarely seen in the media in lingerie and swimwear, we're constantly fed unobtainable 'perfect' body images which then make us all feel negative about our own bodies. I don't want to be seen as invisible now I've reached midlife.
The more we get the message out there by showing up has to be a positive thing. There is also a feeling of liberation that comes from taking part in this event, after years of lacking in self confidence I am proud of where I am at right now and I along with all the people involved are celebrating ourselves and each other.
This event saw well over 120 models take part this year and could so easily become out of control but the team behind this have really worked hard and rehearsal time means everyone has an opportunity to practice, ask questions and generally help put their nerves aside. You could just tell this event was going to be amazing as even during the rehearsals the atmosphere was full of energy and joy.
Rachel Peru, Rebecca Weef Smith, Ava Thompson
So many people touched me during the day with their courage to overcome nerves, their stories and that's what makes it special. Older women are often cast aside once over 40 when it comes to having the freedom to celebrate our bodies so to take part with Rebecca Weef Smith and Ava Thompson was the icing on the cake, a big shout out to all the other older women for showing up and owning the runway. I have a feeling the over 40 gang will grow even bigger next year. One of the highlights of the event for me was when a lady stopped to talk with us and told Rebecca she wanted to be just like her. That's why we did it, in the hope that we might inspire others to feel more confident and press the fxxk it button!
Inspiration comes from all age groups, watching and learning from the younger generations makes me even more determined to keep doing what I'm doing, so I was delighted when I finally got to meet up with Jess Megan who is a constant source of inspiration. I also gained two new girl crushes on Kaisa Henriikka and Plussizevintagemadame, can we take a moment to honour that orange swimsuit! There confidence oozes out of them and it's highly infectious so it's another reminder to surround yourself with people that make you feel more positive about yourself and leave you feeling good.
Strutting down the runway, photographed by Mariam Gomez, Bridge models.
"Dance like no on his watching you"
If you'd have asked me a few years ago if I would share this video of myself and Ava dancing in the streets like this the answer would have been NO! Despite knowing that my three teenage children are slightly mortified to see their mum in this moment I absolutely love it. It captures our feeling of pure joy and freedom in our bodies. I don't have the perfect body, but it works for me and we have become friends, that in it's self is liberating and something to dance for. Saturday was not about competition, judgements or comparisons but about empowerment, acceptance and a celebration of each other. Very 1960's I know..... but it works!